Licorice, Tivoli Gardens and Freetown Christiana. What do these three vastly different things have in common? Well, they are all located in Copenhagen, so there is that. But like the multitude of bike riders that roll through the Danish city each day, each offers a distinctly unique version of the Danish lifestyle, so I thought I would lump them together for my post today.
Lakrids, Lakrids Everywhere!
The word lakrids strangely conjures up images of water bugs to me, but it is actually the Danish word for “licorice.” Since Carolyn is a huge fan of this bittersweet root candy, when we saw some beautiful hard candies in The Viking Museum that the cashier said were licorice, she jumped at the chance to try some. Since I’m not a big licorice fan, I passed when she offered me one the first time, and her comment when she tasted them were that they were “different.”
Heads up. This ain’t your grandma’s licorice.
Later she offered Mike one and I decided to take the plunge with him. The taste was very, very different. Salty, weirdly so, with a strong bitter licorice flavor that was almost medicinal. Mike promptly spit his out of the car window and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t finish that.” I tried to be more polite and sucked mine to the end, but it was difficult. I vacillated between wanting to spit mine out and silently judging Mike for not seeing his through to the end.
According the the official Danish website, Denmark produces some of the strongest liquorices in the world. “Salty liquorice is a speciality in Denmark and contains a large amount of ammonium chloride (salmiac),” the website states. “The brand Ga-Jol is Denmark’s most popular liquorice candy, with the Danes consuming over 600 million each year.” That’s a lot of licorice.
There is even a two-day festival each year in Copenhagen devoted to, you guessed it, licorice.
They also put it in just about everything: beer, fudge, even ice cream.
When we visited Tivoli Gardens, there was a whole store devoted to just licorice. I was definitely a little scared after the whole hard candy incident at the museum, but when Carolyn pushed forward into the licorice store at Tivoli, I followed her in. I mean, how often do you get to visit a licorice store? When we walked in, the sales clerk was handing out samples and because the licorice was covered in chocolate, I decided to give it a second chance.
It turned out to be incredibly delicious, and I was so impressed that between Carolyn and I sampling so many of the candies, I think we upset the sales clerk. But then Carolyn bought three packages of them, and I bought a pack at the airport on the way home, so I think we balanced out their losses.
Back at our Airbnb the next morning, I went to go throw out the coffee grounds, and I saw the trash was sprinkled throughout with the beautiful little hard licorice candies Carolyn had bought at the museum. I looked around for the guilty party. “Who threw the licorice away?” James, who hadn’t been at the museum with us, very matter-of-factly said, “I did. Those were nasty.”
And that was that.
Tivoli Gardens is an old amusement park right in the center of Copenhagen and offers another unique attribute to this wonderful city. Copenhagen’s beautiful buildings tower over this charming vintage amusement park and harken back to the era of simpler entertainment and family fun. According to the Visit Denmark website, the park opened on August 15, 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world.
The beautiful place was like taking a step back in time, very charming and nostalgic, but I think it is probably a much prettier place in the spring once the weather is a little warmer, and the trees and flowers are in bloom. I can definitely see why they shut down in the winter. We went on the opening night of the park on a rather frigid March evening, and the crowds were a little sparse at first and it was freezing cold. Still, Danish children ran around with cotton candy (was it licorice flavored?) and thrill-seekers rode the Dæmon (The Demon) rollercoaster screaming their heads off as they flipped upside down and every which way.
Tivoli Gardens also has the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster that is still in operation called the Rutschebanen that was built in 1914. It is also called the Bjergbanen (The Mountain Coaster) because it travels around a small mountain. All in all, I think Tivoli Gardens is a must-see, especially since it is said to have inspired Walt Disney, but only if you like theme-parks. And definitely wait until the weather is warmer…
One of the most unique places in Copenhagen has to be Freetown Christiana, an “autonomous anarchist” community where people live a green-life without cars or property ownership. According to the Visit Denmark website, it was established in 1971 “by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of society rules, completely independent of the Danish government.”
It was a pretty crazy place to visit with wooden booths set up in one area called Pusher St. where merchants sat selling large chunks of hash and other marijuana items. Just a few people were stoned when we walked through and it felt pretty safe overall, but we visited in the morning hours. The night hours could be different, so be careful.
As we ambled around, I felt like I was in a time warp although I enjoyed looking at the different houses and buildings; some had artwork painted on them, and some had cool mosaics like the one above. One home was built into a hill like a bunker and it’s door was so small it looked like a hobbit house.
It felt like stepping back to what I would imagine a 70s hippie commune would be like, so if you want to see a really “far out” place in Copenhagen, walk through Christiana.
Just don’t take pictures because apparently “what happens in Christiana, stays in Christiana.” It’s drug activities are illegal elsewhere in Copenhagen as well as Denmark.